tv MSNBC Live MSNBC August 22, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PDT
that rating system that would ultimately go into effect in 2018. that's the goal according to the white house. and it would be based on a number of things, debt, graduation rates, potential earnings rates for graduates. and then the president's also going to talk about some other ideas to decrease financial aid, to make it easier for students to graduate in four years. like giving grants to high school students who are taking college courses, also spreading out the courses of loans so they're easier and more manageable to pay back. we should say some of the education community have started to speak out and expressed concerns this could be a difficult process to implement. but the white house pushes back against that. they say they are going to get the input of colleges and universities as they begin this process. and, of course, ultimate approval would depend on congress. so that's a big question mark.
the rnc calling this a lame duck bus tour. it's not clear that president obama would be able to get sort of the bipartisan support for this type of proposal that he's hoping for. and craig, to put this in a broader context, this is really the president's goal to tee up the fall budget battles. the budget and also, of course, the debt ceiling which he'll be dealing with this fall. that's part of the larger goal. we expect the president to come out in a few minutes. craig? >> kristen welker traveling with the president in buffalo. we'll hear from president obama in just a few moments. meanwhile, i want to bring in steve cornaki. let's talk about -- not just the president's plan here, but the rising cost of college. the rising cost of tuition. you've been talking a little bit about what they are doing out in oregon. let's talk a little bit about that. for folks who weren't familiar with this plan, what is it? and could it be taken to scale? >> that's what they're trying to
find out right now. the stage is very early. it's a pilot program that's been developed right now. the plan isn't fully in place. the idea is basically if you go to a college, public college, you wouldn't pay tuition up front and go out and take a gigantic loan, be paying interest on it. the cost of college would be zero. but in exchange for that, you would then dedicate a fixed portion of your earnings over the next 15, 20, 25 years, something like that, say 2% or 3% of your earnings. and that would -- you would pay back. pay it forward plan. the money you pay back while you're working would pay for new students to come in who wouldn't have to pay when they can't afford it. >> fascinating concept. >> the whole idea is, let's see if they can develop something that becomes a model for the rest of the state, the rest of the country. >> this is something else, probably not something that's going to be discussed today, but a conversation we had this morning. the idea that perhaps in this country maybe we have too many colleges and universities. maybe we have too many institutions of higher learning
when you look at the number of tech schools. just the sheer number. is that the case in america when you look at us compared to other industrialized countries? >> that debate goes on a lot. there's something sort of aspirational about the idea of college, about the fulfillment of the american dream. especially when you talk about, you know, parents or grandparents who didn't go to college who didn't have the opportunity. the pride they take in being able to watch their kids and grand kids be eligible for it, be able to do it. and you're right, i don't think that's something that the president's going to bring up today. the other thing here too, i think, sure, there's the issue here, has to go through republicans in congress, who knows if that's going to happen. but it's a step more removed from that. this is a philosophical moment for the president. republicans are out there in the town halls back in the districts, what are we hearing from that? a shutdown, debt ceiling fight, we want to get rid of obama care and this is obama saying while they're having that conferring, this is the conversation i want
to have with the country. about what the government can do to help people realize the dream of a college education to not go broke, not go bankrupt paying for it. two different messages out there to hear. >> i want to bring kristen welker back into the conversation, as well, there in buffalo. kristen, what parts of the president's plans will he be able to enact without congressional approval? >> that's an important point, craig. this grading system is something that he plans to do through executive action. so he wants to get that started by 2015 so that colleges can start to be graded based on the debt of students. the percentage of graduates, the expected earnings of potential graduates. so that's something that he can do without congress. but where he needs congress is to actually link it to federal aid. and that is where it gets more complicated. this is something he's been talking about since the state of the union address in some form
or fashion. he's really struggled to get some of those initiatives through congress. there's really not a whole lot of hope at this point in time that it will get through. but, again, of course, he's just mapping it out today and we are still waiting to hear what republicans on the hill have to say. and they say some of them waiting to hear what president obama has to say in his remarks. but it is an important point, craig, some of this can get going without congress. >> steve obviously the economy, the middle class, reducing the cost of college. those are issues that are top of mind for lots of people in this country. but with what's happening in egypt, the images that we are seeing now out of syria. what's the likelihood that this message over the next few days gets completely overshadowed. >> yeah, it's a time time. of course, by the same tone, it's going to always be a tough time. always something to overshadow it. and when you talk about an issue like college tuition, student loans, these sorts of things, it's never an issue that i think that ever rises to number one on
people's priority list. but i think one thing to keep in mind about sort of the politics of this if you look at the coalition that elected and reelected obama in the role that young voters played. recent college graduates, people who are now saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt who are not making a lot of money. how am i going to pay this off? people who have -- who are living the reality of student loan debt every day. i think this message maybe reaches them even if it doesn't become the top national issue. >> the average borrower at this point we know graduates with about $26,000 worth of debt. tuition has doubled as a share of public revenue from 25% to 47%. it will be interesting to hear whether the president also in addition to rolling out a plan talks about some of the drivers of college debt and some of the drivers of tuition increases in this country, as well. >> and a longer term question,
it's interesting. i don't -- i sort of wonder sometimes how much the federal government is going to be able to do ultimately to bring down the cost of, you know, 60,000 at stanford or whatever it costs these days. but this idea of a report card, a grading system of quantifying, hey, this is, you know, money well spent, a college that actually cares about keeping the cost of tuition under control and we're going to create some sort of incentive where there's more grants now coming to students who go to that school, more money available for students at that school. i wonder if that could change behavior a little bit. >> do standby as we wait for president obama to take the podium. meanwhile, we continue to follow developing news from egypt this hour. a helicopter landed at a prison in cairo late this morning to take former leader hosni mubarak. the interim government made that move after the judge ordered mubarak released from prison. we are going to continue to follow developments from cairo and bring you new information
from egypt as we get it. right now, the united nations is working to clarify reports of chemical weapons attacks in syria. now, dozens of countries are calling for a u.n. investigation, the syrian government is denying claims of the worst attacks anywhere in decades. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in cairo. >> reporter: syrians are still finding bodies today in two areas outside damascus, where rebels claim there was a series of chemical weapons attacks in the early morning hours yesterday. the death tolls right now, they range wildly. anywhere from the hundreds to well over 1,000. there are weapons inspectors who are in syria a few miles away from these alleged atrocities took place. they can't get to the sites. they are barred access by the
syrian government. they are negotiating with syrian authorities but so far have not been able to reach those areas and do their experiments, collect soil samples, talk to survivors and medical personnel which is something that now 35 countries are demanding that they do. the syrian government, however, says there was no chemical weapons attack. that tlchbt been any chemical weapons attacks, that this is a fabrication by the syrian rebels to try to gain international support, gain sympathy, and to confuse those weapons inspectors holed up in damascus now. craig? >> richard, thank you so much. and, again, we continue to wait on president obama's remarks at the university of buffalo. the president rolling out a plan to cut the cost of going to college. we will bring you his remarks when they happen. the secret is out. hydration is in. [ female announcer ] only aveeno daily moisturizing lotion has an active naturals oat formula that creates a moisture reserve so skin can replenish itself. aveeno® naturally beautiful results.
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again, we are just moments away from president obama's remarks at the university of buffalo. he will be rolling out a plan to cut the cost of going to college. he is being introduced right now. that's a sophomore at the university of buffalo, we're told. we will bring you the remarks when they happen live. right now the san diego officials are preparing to release details about mayor bob filner's sexual harassment settlement. proposed resolution after days of talks. they will present the deal to a closed session of city council tomorrow. nbc's joe friar has the latest on that from san diego. joe? >> reporter: craig, we know they've reached a tentative agreement. the big question, is mayor bob filner's resignation a part of that agreement? we know that filner was seen leaving city hall last night. videos shot by a staff member of one city council member shows
filner shopping into his suv and you could see packed boxes in the backseat. experts have been saying all week long that resignation is the main negotiating tool that filner has. the big question is, if he did decide to resign, what might he able to get in return? would that include help with his legal costs? and would the city council be willing to approve that? city leaders and filner's attorneys emerged after three days of mediation talks. they say they cannot discuss the details of that agreement until it's presented to the city council in a closed door meeting on friday afternoon. after that meeting, then more details will be released. one big question, does this agreement include any sort of settlement of the lawsuit with the one former employee who has filed a suit claiming sexual harassment against filner. we know that lady and her attorney have been part of the
mediation process. allred is holding a news conference this afternoon and might shed more light on what the settlement holds. >> all right. joe fryer in san diego. and again, we continue to watch this -- this hall in buffalo, new york. president obama being introduced there. hundreds of students have gathered. kristen welker standing by. one of the things we were talking about in the last commercial break, it will also be interesting to hear whether president obama talks about the fact that over the past, you know, two decades, there really haven't been a lot of incentives for colleges and for universities to actually bring down the cost of college. when you make all this federal money, when you make it -- we'll have to pick up that conversation after the speech president obama taking the podium here in buffalo. let's listen in, again, this is, we should note here, part of a two-day bus tour. president obama will stop here, he's also going to be stopping in pennsylvania, as well.
to talk to students, to talk to parents about some of the ideas that the white house now has to reduce the cost of going to college in this country. we know, again, the average college graduate carries about $26,000 in debt when he or she finally graduates. and we also know that tuition has almost doubled as a share of public college revenue over the past 25 years or so. it's gone from 25% to 47% and, again, we can see president obama working the rope line there, making his way to the podium. we expect his comments to run somewhere between, you know, 30 and 40 minutes. >> hello, buffalo! hello bulls.
well, it is good to be back in buffalo. good to be back in new york. i want to begin by making sure we all thank sylvana for the wonderful introduction. give her a round of applause. her mom and dad are here somewhere. where are they? i know they're pretty proud. there they are right there. give mom and dad a big round of applause. a number of other people i want to acknowledge. our secretary of education arne duncan, doing a great job. one of the finest governors in the country, your governor, andrew cuomo is here.
your outstanding mayor brian higgins is here. give him a big round of applause. what? byron brown. i'm sorry. let me -- what i meant was your congressman brian higgins is here. your mayor byron brown is here. this is what happens when you get to be 52 years old. when i was 51, everything was smooth. but your congressman and your mayor are doing outstanding work. we just rode on the bus over from the airport and they were telling me that buffalo's on the move. that was the story.
couple other people i want to acknowledge, nancy zimfer is here, doing a great job, university president satish is here. and we've got all the students in the house. thank all the students for being here. [ applause ] now, today is a check-in day at the dorms. so i want to thank all the students for taking a few minutes from setting up your futons and your mini fridges
just to come out here. i hear the last sitting president to speak here was milliard fillmore. and he was actually chancellor of the university at the same time. which sounds fun but i've got enough on my plate. this is our first stop on a two-day road trip through new york and pennsylvania. and after this, i head to syracuse to speak -- yay, syracuse -- to speak with some high schoolers. tomorrow, i'm going to visit scranton. but i wanted to start here at university of buffalo.
and i wanted -- i wanted to do it for a couple of reasons. first, i know you're focused on the future. as i said talking to the mayor, you know, he was describing new medical school and new opportunities for the high-tech jobs of tomorrow. so there's great work being done at this institution. i also know that everybody here must be fearless because the football team kicks off against number two ohio state next weekend. good luck, guys. it's going to be a great experience. it's going to be a great experience. it could be an upset. and third and most importantly, i know that the young people here are committed to earning
your degree, to helping this university, to make sure that every one of you finishes in four, make sure that you're prepared for whatever comes next. and that's what i want to talk about here today. you know, over the last month, i've been visiting towns across the country, talking about, yeah -- feel free to sit down. get comfortable. thank you. i love you too. over the last month -- over the last month, i've been out there talking about what we need to do as a country to make sure that we've got a better bargain for the middle class. and everybody who's working hard to get into the middle class. a national strategy to make sure that everybody who works hard has a chance to succeed in this 21st century economy.
now -- i think all of us here know that for the past 4 1/2 years, we've been fighting back from a brutal recession that cost millions of americans their jobs, their homes and their savings. but what the recession also did was it showed that for too long we've seen an erosion of middle class security. so together we saved the auto industry. together we took on a broken health care system, we invested -- [ applause ] we invested in new technologies. we started reversing our addiction to foreign oil. we changed a tax code that was tilted too far in favor of the wealthy at the expense of working families. add it all up, today our businesses have created 7.3 million new jobs over the last
41 months. we now generate more renewable energy than ever before, we sell more goods made in america the rest of the world than ever, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years, our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years. here in buffalo, the governor and the mayor were describing over $1 billion in investment, river front being changed, construction booming. signs of progress. so thanks to the grit and the resilience of the american people, we've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis. we've started to lay the foundation for a stronger, more durable economic growth. but, as any middle class family will tell you, folks here in buffalo will tell you, we're not where we need to be yet.
because even before the crisis hit and a town like buffalo knows something about this, we were living through a decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, most families were working harder and harder just to get by. manufacturing was leaving, jobs moving overseas. it's a struggle for a lot of folks. must be washington's highest priority. it's my highest priority. i've got to say it's not always washington's highest priority. because rather than keeping focus on a growing economy that creates good middle class jobs, you know, we've seen a faction
of republicans in congress suggest that maybe america shouldn't pay its bills that have already been run up, that we should shut down government if they can't shut down obama care. you know, that won't grow our economy. they won't help our middle class. we can't afford in washington the usual circus of distractions and political posturing. we can't afford that right now. what we need is to build on the corner stones of what it means to be middle class in america. focus on that. a good job with good wages. a good education, a home of your own, affordable health care, a secure retirement. bread and butter pocketbook issues that you care about every
single day. that you're thinking about every single day. and we've got to create more pathways in the middle class for folks who are willing to work for it. that's what made america great. it's not just how many billionaires we produce, but our ability to give everybody who works hard the chance to pursue their own measure of happiness. that's what america's all about. now, there aren't many things more important to that idea of economic mobility, the idea that you can make it if you try than a good education. all the students here know that. that's why you're here. that's why your families have made big sacrifices. because we understand that in the face of greater and greater global competition in a knowledge-based economy, a great
education is more important than ever. a higher education is the single best investment you can make in your future. and i'm proud of all the students who are making that investment. and that's not just me saying it. look, right now, the unemployment rate for americans with at least a college degree is about 1/3 lower than the national average. the incomes of folks who have at least a college degree are more than twice those of americans without a high school diploma. so more than ever before, some form of higher education is the surest path in to the middle class. but, what i want to talk about today is what's become a barrier and a burden for too many
american families. and that is the soaring cost of higher education. everybody knows you need a college education. on the other hand, college has never been more expensive. over the past three decades, the average tuition at a public four year college has gone up by more than 250%. 250%. now, a typical family's income has only gone up 16%. think about that. tuition's gone up 250%, income gone up 16%. that's a big gap. now, it's true that a lot of universities have tried to provide financial aid and work
study programs and so not every student, in fact, most students are probably not paying the sticker price of tuition. we understand that. but what we also understand is that if it's going up 250 and your incomes are only going up 16, at some point, families are having to make up some of the difference. or students are having to make up some of the difference with debt. and meanwhile, over the past few years, states have been cutting back on their higher education budgets. new york's done better than a lot of states. but the fact is, we've been spending more money on prisons, less money on college. [ applause ] and meanwhile, not enough colleges have been working to figure out how do we control costs? how do we cut back on costs? so all this sticks it to
students, sticks it to families. but also, taxpayers end up paying a bigger price. the average student who borrows for college now graduates owing more than $26,000. some a lot more than that. and i've heard from a lot of these young people who are frustrated that they've done everything they're supposed to do, got good grades in high school, applied to college, did well in school. but now they come out, they've got this crushing debt that's crippling their sense of self-reliance and their dreams. it becomes hard to start a family and buy a home if you're servicing $1,000 of debt every month. becomes harder to start a business if you are servicing $1,000 worth of debt every month, right?
and meanwhile, parents you're having to make sacrifice, which means you may be dipping into savings that should be going to your retirement to pay for your son or daughter's education. so at a time when a higher education has never been more important or more expensive. too many students are facing a choice they should never have to make. either they say no to college and pay the price for not getting a degree and that's a price that lasts a lifetime, or you do what it takes to go to college but you run the risk you won't be able to pay it off because you've got so much debt. that's a choice we shouldn't have to accept. and that's a choice previous generations didn't have to accept. this is a country early on made
a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. we were ahead of the curve when it came to helping young people go to school. the folks in buffalo understand this. mayor brown was talking about the city of buffalo and the great work that is being done through the program called say yes. to make sure no child in buffalo has to miss out on a college education because they can't pay for it. even though there's a great program in this city, a lot of places, that program doesn't exist. but a generation ago, two generations ago, we made a bigger commitment. this is the country that gave my grandfather the chance to go to college on the g.i. bill after he came back from world war ii.
this is the country that helped my mother get through school while raising two kids. michelle and i, michelle and i, we're only where we are today because scholarships and student loans gave us a shot at a great education. and we know a little bit about trying to pay back student loans too. we didn't come from a wealthy family. we each graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt. and even though we got good jobs, we barely finished paying it off just before i was elected to the u.s. senate. right? i was in my 40s when we finished paying off our debt. and we should have been saving for malia and sasha by that time, but we were still paying off what we got. and we were luckier because most
of the debt was from law school. our undergraduate debt was not as great because tuition had not started shooting up as high. bottom line is this, we've got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt. over the past four years, what we've tried to do is take some steps to make college more affordable. so we enacted historic reforms to the student loan system, so taxpayer dollars stop padding the pockets of big banks and, instead, help more kids afford college. what was happening, the old system the student loan programs going through banks, they didn't have any risk because the federal government guaranteed the loans, but they were still taking billions of dollars out of the program. we said let's give the loans directly to the students and we can put more money to helping students. then we set up a consumer
watchdog. and that consumer watchdog is already helping students and families navigate the financial options that are out there to pay for college without getting ripped off by shady lenders. and we're providing more tools and resources for students to finance college. and if any of you are figuring out how to finance college, check it out at studentaid.gov. studentaid.gov. then we took action to cap loan repayments at 10% of monthly income for many borrowers trying to responsibly manage their federal student loan debt. so overall, we've made college more affordable for millions of students and families through tax credits and grants and student loans that go further than they did before. and just a few weeks ago, democrats and republicans worked together to keep student loan rates from doubling.
and that saves undergraduates more than $1,500 for this year's loans. that's all a good start. but it's not enough. the problem is even if the federal government keeps on putting more and more money in the system, if the cost is going up by 250%, tax revenues aren't going up 250%. and so at some point, the government will run out of money. which means more and more costs are being loaded on to students and their families. the system's current trajectory is not sustainable. state legislatures will have to step up. they can't keep cutting support for colleges and universities. that's just the truth. colleges are not going to be able to just keep on increasing
tuition year after year and then passing it on to students and families and taxpayers. our economy can't afford the trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt, much of which may not get repaid because students don't have the capacity to pay it. we can't price the middle class and everybody working to get in the middle class out of a college education. we're going to have to do things differently. we can't go about business as usual. because if we do, that'll put our younger generation, our workers, our country at a competitive disadvantage for years. higher education is still the best ticket to upward mobility in america. and if we don't do something about keeping it within reach, it will create problems for economic mobility for generations to come. and -- and that's not acceptable. so whether we're talking about a two-year program, a four-year
program, a technical certificate. bottom line is higher education cannot be a luxury. it's an economic imperative. every american family should be able to afford to get it. that's the problem. what are we going to do about it? today i'm proposing major new reforms that will shake up the current system, create better incentives for colleges to do more with less and deliver better value for students and their families. and some of these reforms will require action from congress. so we're going to have to work on that. some of these changes i can make on my own. we are going to have to -- we're going to be partnering with colleges to do more to keep costs down, and we're going to work with states to make higher
education a higher priority in their budgets. and one last thing, we're going to have to ask more of students who are receiving federal aid, as well. and i've got to tell you ahead of time, these reforms won't be popular with everybody. especially those who are making out just fine under the current system. but my main concern is not with those institutions. my main concern is the student those institutions are there to serve. because this country is only going to be as strong as our next generation. and i've got confidence -- [ applause ] i have confidence that our country's colleges and universities will step up. just like, you know, the chancellor and other folks are trying to lead the way and do the right thing for students. let me be specific. my plan comes down to three main goals.
first, we're going to start rating colleges, not just by which college is the most selective. not by which college is the most expensive, which has the nicest facilities. you can get all that on the existing rating systems. what we want to do is rate them on who's offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck. number two, we're going to jump start new competition between colleges. not just on the field or the court, but in terms of innovation that encourages affordability and encourages student success and doesn't sacrifice educational quality. that's going to be the second component of it. and the third is we're going to make sure if you have to take on debt to earn your college degree that you have ways to manage and afford it.
so -- [ applause ] let me talk about each of these briefly. our third priority is aimed at providing better value for students. making sure that families and taxpayers are getting what we pay for. today i'm directing arne duncan, our secretary of education to lead an effort to develop a new rating system for america's colleges before the 2015 college year. right now, private rankings like the u.s. news and world report puts out each year their rankings and encourages colleges to how we game the numbers and rewards them in some cases for costs. are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed? and on outcomes, on their value
to students and parents. so that means metrics like how much debt does the average student leave with? how easy is it to pay off? how many students graduate on time? how well do those graduates do in the workforce. because the answers will help parents and students figure out how much value a college truly offers. there are schools out there who are terrific values. but there are also schools out there that have higher default rates than graduation rates. and taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing students to go to schools where the kids aren't graduating. that doesn't do anybody any good. and our ratings will also measure how successful colleges are at enrolling and graduating students who are on pell grants. and it will be my firm principle
that ratings are designed to increase opportunities for higher education for students who face economic or other disadvantages. so, you know, this is going to take a little time. but we think this can empower students and families to make good choices. and it'll give any college the chance to show that it's making serious and consistent improvement. so they may not -- a college may not be where it needs to be right now on value, but they'll have time to try to get better. and we want all the stake holders in higher education, students, parents, businesses, college administrators, professors to work with secretary duncan on this process. and over the next few months, he's going to host a series of public forums to make sure we get these measures right. and then over the next few years, we're going to work with congress to use these ratings to change how we allocate federal aid for colleges.
we are going to deliver on a promise i made last year. we're going to deliver on a promise we made last year which is colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer funding go up. it is time to stop subsidizing schools that are not producing good results and reward schools that deliver for american students in our future. [ applause ] and we're also going to encourage states to follow the same principle. right now, most states fund colleges based on how many students they enroll. not based on how well those students do or even if they graduate. now, some states are trying a better approach. you've got tennessee, indiana, ohio. they're offering more funding
for colleges that do a better job of preparing students for graduation in a job. michigan is a state that is changing the incentive structure. and i'm challenging all states to come up with new and innovative ways to fund their colleges in a way that drives better results. [ applause ] now, for the young people here, i want to say that just as we're expecting more from our schools that get funding from taxpayers, we're going to have to expect more from students who get subsidies and grants from taxpayers. so -- we're going to make sure students who receive federal financial aid complete their courses before receiving grants for the next semester. you know, we're --
we'll make sure to build in flexibility so we're not penalizing disadvantaged students or students who are holding down jobs to pay for school, things happen. but the bottom line is, we need to make sure that if you're getting financial aid you're doing your part to make progress towards a degree. and by the way, that's good for you too because if you take out debt and you don't get that degree, you are not going to be able to pay off that debt and you'll be in a bind. all right. second goal, we want to encourage more -- thank you. second thing we want to do is to encourage more colleges to embrace innovative new ways to prepare our students for a 21st century economy and maintain a high level of quality without
breaking the bank. let me talk about some alternatives that are already out there. southern new hampshire university gives course credit based on how well students master the material, not just on how many hours they spend in the classroom. so the idea would be if you're learning the material faster, you can finish faster, which means you pay less and you save money. [ applause ] university of wisconsin is getting ready to do the same thing. you've got central missouri university. i went there and they've partnered with local high schools and community colleges so that their students can show up at college and graduate in half the time because they're already starting to get college credits while they're in high school or while they're in a two-year college so by the time they get to a four-year college they're saving money. universities like carnegie mellon, arizona state, they're
starting to show that online learning can help students master the same material in less time and often at lower costs. georgia tech which is a national leader in computer science, just announced it will begin offering an online masters degree in computer science at a fraction of the cost of a traditional class. but is just as rigorous and it's producing engineers who are just as good. so a lot of other schools are experimenting with these ideas to keep tuition down. they've got other ways to help students graduate in less time at less costs while still maintaining high quality. the point is it's possible. and it's time for more colleges to step up with even better ways to do it. and we're going to provide additional assistance to states and universities that are coming up with good ideas. third thing,en ev even as we wo
bring down costs for future and current students. we've got to offer students who already have debt the chance to actually repay it. you know, nobody wants to take on debt. especially after what we've seen in families have gone through during this financial crisis. but taking on debt in order to earn a college education has always been viewed as something that will pay off over time. we've got to make sure, though, that it's manageable. as i said before, even with good jobs it took michelle and me a long time to pay off our student loans. while we should have been saving for malia's sasha's college educations we were still paying off our own. we know how important it is to make sure debt is manageable so it doesn't keep you from taking a job you really care about or getting marry or buying that first home. there are some folks who have
been talking recently about whether the federal student loan should make or cost the government money. here's the bottom line. government shouldn't see student loans as a way to make money. it should be a way to help students. so we need to ask ourselves, how much does federal student loans cost students? how can we help students manage those costs better? our national mission is not to profit off student loans, our national mission must be to profit off having the best educated work force in the world. that should be our focus. so, as i mentioned a little bit earlier, two years ago i capped loan repayments at 10% of a student's post-college income. we call it pay as you earn. and it, along with some other
income-driven repayment plans have helped 2.5 million students so far. there are two obstacles preventing more students from taking advantage of it. one is that too many current and former students aren't eligible which means we have to get congress to open up the program for more students. and we're going to be pushing them to do that. the other obstacle is that a lot of students don't know they're eligible for the program. so starting this year, we'll launch a campaign to help more borrowers learn about their repayment options and we'll help more student borrowers enroll in pay as you earn. if you went to college, took out debt, you want to be a teacher and starting salary for a teacher is, you know, let's say $35,000, well, only 10% of that amount is what your loan repayment is. if you're making more money you should be paying more back.
but that way everybody has a chance to go to college, everybody has a chance to pursue their dreams. and that program is already in place. we want more students to take advantage of it and we're really going to be advertising it heavily. if we move forward on these three fronts, increasing value, encouraging innovation, helping people responsibly manage their debt, i guarantee you we will help more students afford college. we'll help more students graduate from college. we'll help more students get rid of that debt so they can get a good start in their careers. but it's going to take a lot of hard work. good news is, from what i hear, folks in buffalo know something about hard work. folks in america know something about hard work. and we've come a long way together these past four years. we're going to keep moving forward on this issue and on
every other issue that's going to help make sure that we continue to have the strongest, most thriving middle class in the world. we're going to keep pushing to build a better bargain for everybody in this country who works hard. and everybody who's trying to get into that middle class. we're going to keep fighting to make sure that this remains a country where if you work hard and study hard, and are responsible, you are rewarded. so that no matter what you look like and where you come from, what your last name is, here in america, you can make it if you try. thank you very much, everybody. god bless you. god bless america. >> president obama speaking there at the university of buffalo, telling a crowd of about 7,200 we're told, that the current system is not sustainable. i want to bring in melissa harris-perry. college professor at tulane, you were listening into the president's speech. what do you make of that?
does it sound like the president has sound ideas about bringing down the cost of college in this country. >> he talked about the overall economic crisis. that's a critical part of what has increased tuitions. what's happened is tuition has had to carry a larger portion of paying for school because endowments were hit so very hard, for private universities and state universities cut so much funding to state colleges since 2008. that's been tough on universities overall. i was, however, very concerned about part of what the president said towards the end where he talked about moving students through school much more quickly and relying increasingly on online education. those thare things that most college professors would indicate are probably not good ideas. they might be cost-containing in the short term but in the long term they generate additional problems. you get through school sooner but send 19 and 20-year-olds into a job market that is
already flooded with young people having difficulty finding a job. also, you know, look, for those of us who do our work in college classrooms, the idea that it's simply about getting information over the web and you can have a similar experience in multihundred thousand person classes on the web as you can in the classroom, i think forgets what college education is really about. some good ideas and others made me cringe. >> melissa, really quickly, what about those who would say if the idea is to make this information accessible to everyone, to make college learning affordable for everyone, to folks who can't afford to go to a brick and mortar university, for those who can afford a high speed internet connection, why not make that more affordable or easier to access? >> the evidence demonstrates within we look at the default rates on student loans, in fact, the biggest problem is the kind
of educational settings that the president was talking about there. brick and mortar universities, whether low-cost state university or extremely expensive private universities, students who take those loans finishing those colleges. they nonetheless have a college degree. default are happening and the difficulty is happening for students in the for-profit sector, much of which happens online, the university of phoenix and others. students are taking out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, they're low income, vastly predominantly minority students, they never end up with a degree on the other side of it and they don't end up with the earning potential and power to actually pay back those loans. when you look at the problem, it's not the problem of paying for the university of wisconsin or buffalo, it ends up being exactly the kinds of schools that the president was talking about at the end there. >> melissa harris-perry, thank you. catch her every saturday and
sunday, 10:00. we'll also be in washington wug this weekend, broadcasting as well. our special coverage of the march on washington, the 50 years since that. alex wagner will pick it up. >> president obama takes the fight on the road but the real battle lies ahead in washington. it's thursday, august 22nd and this is "now." congress may have two more weeks left but for the president, vacation is over. it's also over for me, too. hours ago he began his two-day bus tour through new york and pennsylvania pushing higher education reforms as part of his better bargain for the middle class. >> for too long we've seen an erosion of middle-class security. as any middle-class family will tell you, folks here in buffalo will tell you, we're not where we need to be yet. because even before the crisis
hit, and a town like buffalo knows something about this, we were living through a decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, most families were working harder just to get by. >> in buffalo, the president says he planned to make a new college ranking system. still, the for college towns on obama's tour, buffalo, syracuse, binghamton and scranton face st structural problems. has the train left the station? has the momentum behind a hollowing out of middle class jobs and the replacement of human beings by machines gained so much strength that it cannot be reversed? obama has put the role of a revived middle class at the top of his agenda but has not publicly voiced an understand of the size and scope of the
problem he seeks to address. at minimum, addressing those problems would require the cooperation of congress. at present a seemingly impossible request. before the president even took to the podium in buffalo, the rnc blasted out its verdict, lame speech, lame duck. republicans may enjoy lobbying a a -- the white house is facing criticism for muddled foreign policy and a noncommittal response to events unfolding in egypt and syria. and the international events have nothing to surveillance stories that continue to eat into the second half of the obama presidency. as harry truman said if you want a friend in washington, get a dog. president obama did so this week with the addition of sunny, another portuguese water dog, companion to bo and one of the few bright spots in the dog days of summer.